The last time we saw Captain Picard he was sitting in space dock fixing up the Enterprise and saying goodbye to old friends after the events of Nemesis. Now that the TNG film era is over, it is up to Trek Novels to continue the story. Riker and Troi have already set off in the popular ‘Titan’ book series, and so Picard must move on without his loyal first officer and trusted counselor. The first of these post Nemesis novels (Death in Winter) was released in hardcover in late 2005, and it focused on Picard/Crusher romance that has been brewing for far too long. That book gets re-issued in paperback later this year along with a slew of new TNG books to help celebrate the TNG 20th anniversary. In the second part of our interview with Simon & Schuster editor Margaret Clark, we find out what is next for The Next Generation.
Picard’s feisty new family
Of the 5 new TNG books planned for this year, 3 take place after Nemesis and "Death in Winter." Like she has done with the Enterprise novels (see part 1 of our interview), Clark has laid out a new path for the authors including new characters. And with these new characters come more changes to the TNG we know. The most pronounced is taking on the bit-too-harmonious starship Enterprise. Clark explains:
TNG has always been a story about family, now we have Picard with new members of his family. He has to have a new counselor and a new first officer. There are new people and new dynamics. They aren’t going "God Jean Luc, great idea!” You don’t have to bring in guest stars to question him, there are now people on board saying "Why are we doing that?”….this is no longer the cult of Picard
Even Crusher, now back on board as Picard’s CMO and main squeeze gets in on the action. "They are having an adult relationship," says Clark "the first time Beverly pushes back there is a problem: Is she doing that as his Chief Medical Officer or the woman that he is in love with?"
TNG can arc too
Because of these changes Clark has had to write out a ‘show bible’ in much the same way a producer would do on the TV series. This helps the authors keep track of the characters and the aforementioned dynamics. It also signals a bit of a change with how the novels deal with internal continuity. Although it is still the goal for each novel to stand alone, there is now more connection between them…
In the past we were discouraged, but now there is more cross continuity. That is what Star Trek fans want, they want the books to mirror the experience they would have had, had the shows continued on.
In addition to the new continuity, Clark is also trying to clear up some things with a bit of ‘retcon’ such as why Worf is back on the Enterprise. "I can explain that," enthuses Clark. Apparently there is also some kind of thread arc that runs throughout the 20th Anniversary novels as well. These kind of arcs are already common in the DS9 book, which follows from how the show itself was arc driven. Even though the TNG books are now dipping their toe into the arc water Clark says that it isn’t to the same extent as the DS9 books, noting "you can still pick up any of these books in a store and enjoy it without reading the others."
Another change in store for TNG is a move away from technobabble and technical solutions and more towards character. Clark feels that you don’t need to explain everything in detail, joking "how do Heisenberg compensators work?….very well thank you." The editor feels that there has been too much of a reliance on technology and it really doesn’t belong in the novels, saying
Five pages of tecnobabble could be fine with visual effects on a show, but it doest work that well in a book. Don’t explain how it all works, just tell me a good story.
…so does that mean that we will no longer have the deus ex machina technology save the day at the last minute?
Well this is still science fiction, but I tell all the writers not to forget that the greatest weapon in Starfleet’s arsenal is its people.
After the 20th Anniversary year is over there are still more missions planned for Picard and the Enterprise…plus some special guests. To that end there will be a 3 book ‘crossover event’ planned for 2008. Clark wont spill the beans on exactly who we will see crossing over or what they will be dealing with but did reveal one nugget, saying "everyone wants to see Picard and Riker working together again!"
6 new books for TNG’s Anniversary
In addition to the 3 post-Nemesis books for 2007, Simon & Schuster are also releasing another Titan novel, a short story compilation and even a prequel taking place between Picard’s time on the Stargazer and the beginning of TNG. The Titan Novel cover is noteworthy at it shows the Riker’s new ship for the first time (based on a design by fan Sean Tourangeau, the winner of the ‘design the Titan’ contest). See below for details on each.(all available as eBooks and Mass-market paperbacks for $7.99, except where noted)
July: Star Trek: The Next Generation—The Buried Age
Revealed at last: the full story behind Picard’s "missing years" between the Stargazer and the Enterprise-D.
September: Star Trek: The Next Generation—Death in Winter
As the Romulan Star Empire stutters under the shifting political landscape, the Federation dare to send out teams to help subject worlds. One mission headed by Dr. Crusher is lost, and she is declared MIA, presumed KIA. Picard is sent to carry out her mission.
September: Star Trek: The Next Generation—Resistance
With his ship repaired, Picard looks forward to putting together a crew and getting back to exploring. But once again the captain hears the song of the Borg collective, and Admiral Janeway is convinced that the Borg have been crushed and are no longer a threat.
October: Star Trek: The Next Generation—Q & A
The crew of the Enterprise discover a planet that shouldn’t exist, and Q promises them if they don’t unravel the mystery the universe will end.
October: Star Trek: The Next Generation—The Sky’s The Limit
A collection of all-new short stories spanning the entire history of The Next Generation. ($14.99 Trade Paperback, edited by Marco Palmieri)
November: Star Trek: The Next Generation—Before Dishonor
Always a threat to the Federation, the Borg seem ready to wipe humanity from existence, not to assimilate them. Does a disabled Borg cube hold the answers on how to stop them?
December: Star Trek: Titan—Sword Of Damocles
Faith and reason collide as the Titan crew faces a crisis on three fronts.